The problem with this issue is that, for most of us, "who cares?" is the common reaction. But it bothers me that Mayor Tom Leppert and our cith council seem prepared to spend $300-400 million of our tax money on a new convention center hotel downtown without telling us enough about the deal so we can figure it out ourselves.

The Observer and writer Sam Merten offer an interesting story this week on the hotel, the $40 million land purchase the city has already committed to and how the city reached this point after more than 10 years of discussion. The conclusion: It’s certainly possible we need a convention center hotel, but no ones agrees on how much we should be paying to subsidize one. (Disclosure: Merten’s wife, a graphic designer, freelances for our magazines from time to time.)

The problem with this story is the same as the problem with the whole taxpayer subsidized hotel discussion: It’s very long, very complicated, and you’re more likely to flip the page before ending the story than you are to wind your way to its nebulous conclusion. This is the third big attempt to push a subsidized hotel through the council during the past 15 years; the first two attempts, by mayors Kirk and Miller, failed because the perceived taxpayer subsidy (around $40-50 million) was thought to be way too high. And yet the current deal, pushed by Mayor Leppert, looks to require a taxpayer subsidy of somewhere north of $300 million, and it looks likely to pass without so much as a "tipping point" discussion from the News or anyone other than the Observer.

Of course, the News should be co-opted from even participating in the discussion — much less vigorously supporting the hotel, as it is doing — because as the Observer points out, Belo Corp. owns nine separate parcels of about 5.2 acres (valued at about $9 million on the tax rolls) near the site of the taxpayer subsidized hotel. Heck, councilman Mitchell Rasansky has been barred from even talking about the project because he owns shares of Citigroup, one of the proposed financial underwriters of the project.

So as the Observer story points out, that leaves — guess who? — Angela Hunt as the lone councilman even asking public questions about the project. And unfortunately, we saw what happened with those odds on the Trinity project.

Bottom line: Without more information about the deal made public, who can say if the project is a good deal or not for Dallas and those of us who have to foot the bill? The city isn’t talking much about the details until a decision is made at the April 23 council meeting on financing the land purchase, the proposals turned in by the proposed hotel developers aren’t being made public yet, and Mayor Leppert isn’t offering up many details yet, if even he has them. And none of that is slowing the project down a bit.

Perhaps one reason not much information is forthcoming about this project is that they know something important about us: We just don’t care.